Vaccination against poliomyelitis, Djibouti, March 2022. ©WHO

Donor contributions allow WHO to help countries acquire and provide vaccines to protect their populations against poliomyelitis, cervical cancer, malaria, cholera, measles, COVID- 19, typhoid and other dangerous but preventable diseases.

To mark World Immunization Week, we feature articles on piloting the world’s first malaria vaccine, mass vaccination campaigns against poliomyelitis, cervical cancer and hepatitis B, and projects funded by ECHO to help African countries catch up on vaccination against COVID-19.

Polio vaccination in Balbala, a southern suburb of Djibouti City, March 2022. © WHO

Nearly 400 polio vaccination teams went door-to-door in Djibouti during a five-day campaign in late March to vaccinate more than 150,000 young children.

The campaign visited homes, health facilities, schools, a refugee camp for Yemeni refugees and other sites across the country. The teams were trained by experts from UNICEF and WHO.

“Djibouti is a regional leader in the fight against poliovirus outbreaks,” said WHO’s acting representative in Djibouti, Mohamed Jameleddine Ben Slama. “The country is saying loud and clear, we refuse to give polio a safe haven.”

Children in Kathmandu, Bagmati province show off their vaccination cards during this month’s campaign. ©UNICEF

The Government of Nepal launched a campaign this month that features typhoid conjugate vaccine in the country’s routine immunization programme. This effort is expected to save the lives of thousands of children.

More than 50,000 sites, both urban and rural, have been set up for the three-week campaign, after which the typhoid vaccine will be introduced into Nepal’s routine immunization schedule and given to children at 15 months.

The campaign will also promote routine immunization in Nepal by identifying toddlers (aged 15-23 months) who have missed their vaccines and ensuring they can access them.

Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, UNICEF, WHO and other partners have been involved in this effort.

Lusitana, a baby in Malawi, became the first person in the world to receive the malaria vaccine on April 23, 2019. ©WHO/ Mark Nieuwenhof

Ghana, Kenya and Malawi participated in a pilot project for the world’s first malaria vaccine. The WHO recommends the vaccine – known as RTS,S – for widespread use in areas with high transmission of the P. falciparum malaria parasite.

At the end of March, Dr. Mike Chisema, Malawi Expanded Program on Immunization Manager, sat down to discuss the experience and knowledge gained from the pilot so far:

Q: On October 6, 2021, WHO recommended the first malaria vaccine for children at risk. What were your first reactions?

Dr Chisema: “It was an important decision, a moment to celebrate and appreciate Malawi’s role in reaching this point, and what we have achieved as a country. The response in Malawi has been very positive and people have welcomed the inclusion of the malaria vaccine as an additional tool that can support progress towards malaria elimination as it reduces child illness and death from malaria. malaria in endemic countries, including high-burden countries like Malawi. .”

Good news for the fight against cervical cancer

A girl in Brazil shows her vaccination card. ©WHO

A single-dose vaccine offers strong protection against human papillomavirus (HPV), the virus that causes most cervical cancers, the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (SAGE) concluded this month. ) from the WHO.

“This single-dose recommendation has the potential to take us faster towards our goal of having 90% of girls immunized by the age of 15 by 2030,” said Dr Princess Nothemba (Nono) Simelela, Deputy director general of the WHO, explaining that a single dose option is less expensive and easier to administer.

Sexually transmitted HPV causes more than 95% of cancers of the cervix, which is the fourth most common type of cancer in women. About 90% of cases occur in low- and middle-income countries.

In a medical laboratory in Somalia, one of 15 African countries that will receive WHO help to boost its immunization coverage under an ECHO grant project. ©UNFP

Vaccination coverage against COVID-19 is marked by striking differences between African countries, ranging from 100% in Seychelles to 0.12% in Burundi.

A new €100 million grant from ECHO (the European Union’s Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations) aims to support national health systems in Africa to implement campaigns for the delivery of the “last mile” of vaccines.

The project – known as the EU Humanitarian Initiative in Support of COVID-19 Vaccination Rollout in Africa – brings together WHO, UNICEF, the World Food Programme, the International Committee on the Red Cross, the International Organization for Migration and many other organizations to help 34 African countries increase their vaccination rates against COVID-19.

The WHO part of the ECHO project, funded by a grant of 16 million euros, is to work in 15 countries, providing technical support. Activities to be carried out by WHO over 18 months include digitization of data collection systems, training, strategy and policy development and other areas. The 15 countries are Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea, Liberia, Madagascar, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Somalia, Republic of Sudan South and Sudan.

The financing of the vaccination against COVID-19 is part of a “Team Europe” approach, bringing together the Member States and the institutions of the European Union. The EU has provided more than €656 million in humanitarian aid in response to COVID-19 and its social and economic consequences since 2020, according to the European Commission.

In Africa, vaccination coverage averaged around 16% at the end of March, far from the WHO’s global target of 70% by the middle of this year.

In Senegal, Marlène Seck’s granddaughter received her first dose of hepatitis B vaccine. © WHO

In Senegal, 17% of the population carries the chronic hepatitis B virus, a liver infection that kills around 80,000 people in Africa each year. Senegal is responding by following the WHO-recommended regimen of four doses of vaccination for children, starting at birth.

“If we manage to vaccinate every child within 24 hours of birth, followed by at least two additional doses, we will eradicate this disease and the cancers linked to it,” said Dr Ousseynou Badiane, head of the expanded program of vaccination from the Ministry of Health and Social Action.

Most chronic hepatitis B infections are acquired at birth and in childhood, and many people have it for years without knowing it.

“We mothers come to have our children vaccinated because we see a great benefit in it,” said Marlène Seck, who brought her daughter to the Philippe Maguilène Senghor Health Center for vaccination against hepatitis B. “Given to the moment of their birth, the vaccine protects our children from complications that may arise in the future.”

Partners and donors recognized in this function include, Africa CDC, European Union, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Gavi, Vaccine Alliance, Global Fund, PATH, UNICEF, Unitaid, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (USA) and the World Bank.

WHO thanks all governments, organizations and individuals who have contributed to the response to COVID-19 around the world since the beginning of the epidemic, and in particular those who have provided fully flexible contributions, to ensure a comprehensive fight against the disease. sickness.

Member States and other governments since 2021:

Australia, Belgium, Canada, Comoros, Denmark, Egypt, France, Germany, Ireland, Isle of Man, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Lesotho, Malta, Mauritania, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Philippines, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Slovak Republic, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, United Kingdom, United States of America.

Other partners since 2021:

African Development Bank Group, African Reinsurance Corporation, Alma Jean Henry Charitable Trust, Ancash, Asian Development Bank, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), Central American Bank for Economic Integration (CABEI), China Medical Board, COVID -19 Solidarity Response Fund, European Commission (ECHO, NEAR, DG-INTPA), FIND-the global alliance for diagnostics, Fundacion MAPFRE, FYT, Gavi-The Vaccine Alliance, International Development Association (IDA), International Organization for Migration (IOM), Islamic Development Bank (IDB), King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSRelief), Kuwait Fund for Development, National Philanthropic Trust (NPT), Rockefeller Foundation, Secretariat of the Pacific Community, Sony, Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation , Task Force for Global Health (TFGH), United Nations Resident Coordinator Office (UNRCO), Unitaid, United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) , United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and Multi-Partner Trust Fund (MPTF), United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) , United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali, United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC), United Nations Office for Humanitarian Coordination (UNOCHA), United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), United Nations Postal Administration (UNPA), United Nations World Food Program (WFP), Veolia Environnement Foundation, Vital Strategies, WHO Foundation, World Bank.